GOOD READS: John Boyne's dark novel of literary ambition, Ladder to the Sky.
GOOD READS: John Boyne's dark novel of literary ambition, Ladder to the Sky.

It's a dark tale in Ladder to the Sky

THE handsome, intelligent and outwardly suave, aspiring novelist Maurice Swift wants fame and will pursue it at any cost.

He chases every possible opportunity to take what he can and from whoever he can - he doesn't discriminate - all for the one goal of getting published not once, but many, many times.

If there is a story, and even if it's not his, he will try to make it his own.

The setting is a hotel in the old West Berlin. Young Swift unexpectedly becomes acquainted with the award-winning author Erich Ackerman. Both want something from each other, but not the same. Swift sees opportunity, Ackerman sees a chance to share his devastatingly disturbing past in the hope of gaining connection.

Swift moves forward while Ackerman pays the price of his lust.

Once Swift has made his name he goes looking for new ideas; much in the same way as he has started. Mentors, friends and family fall by the wayside in Swift's pursuit of fame.

We meet some interesting people during Swift's journey. A sister called Rebecca is extraordinary. A strangely familiar Theo is unsettling.

Ladder to the Sky is quickly captivating. It's a dark tale that may be confronting for some senior readers, but once you take the journey with its author John Boyne, it's becomes easier to see how the start has so much importance in the costly end.

There are light moments to balance the dark, and even an ending that leaves you looking up rather than down.

Is the book about an evil tale or a clever writer? Perhaps if you are an aspiring author you might find yourself sitting back and rethinking your ambition once you have read this tale.

Ladder to the Sky is published by Penguin. RRP$32.99.


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